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Organic Flowers for Valentine's Day? Why Some Shoppers are Buying Green Instead of Red this Year

 When Jim Tripp sends a Valentine's Day bouquet to wife Lauren, he makes sure the flowers are grown locally.

"It's important to support organic farmers and make a conscious choice about where our money goes," says Tripp, Aramark's general manager for sports, entertainment and conventions at the Anaheim Convention Center. "Every time I pull out my checkbook, I can make a difference."

According to the Society of American Florists, 187 million roses are produced for Valentine's Day alone, but only a fraction are sustainably or organically grown. As the base of eco-conscious consumers grows, flowers are joining paints, cabinets, floors and cleaning products in the realm of green shopping.

The key question: What makes flowers green?

Answers vary depending on the source. Roses that carry the VeriFlora Certified label, for example, meet nearly 100 pages of guidelines for sustainable crop production, ecosystem protection and fair labor practices. For others, the key is whether fertilizers or pesticides were applied during production, or whether the flowers were grown locally.

"We believe California flowers are the green alternative, whether we stick a label on them or not," says Kasey Cronquist, executive director of the California Cut Flower Commission, as association of growers. He cites surveys showing that 55% of consumers would buy California-grown flowers if given a choice, but 85% of those people don't know the origin of the flowers they purchase.

More shoppers are requesting local or otherwise sustainable flowers, however, and the floral trade has begun to respond, says Amy Stewart, author of the 2007 book "Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers." 


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